JERUSALEM, Oct. 25 (AP)--Trapped in her apartment, floodwater quickly rising to her neck, Yehudit Hadad clung desperately to her three young children as her Arab neighbors frantically tried first the door and then the window in hopes of saving them.
When the Daka family reached the screaming mother, her youngest child, 4-year-old David, had slipped from her grasp and drowned. But Hadad, even in these times of great animosity between Jews and Arabs in Israel, was grateful.
``If the Arabs hadn't come, we all would have died,'' said a sobbing Hadad, who is Jewish.
Gratitude and acts of compassion are rare these days when Israeli Arabs and Jews mostly approach each other with suspicion, even hatred. But neighbors from both sides were brought together in the Jaffa area of Tel Aviv Wednesday when 3 inches of rain fell in six hours.
Streets were transformed overnight into rivers studded with car tops. The water seeped into ground-floor apartments, waking residents at 4 a.m. Looking out, they saw laundry on clotheslines swept to and fro in the filthy water.
Some, like Hadad, awoke to find themselves trapped behind anti-burglar window bars, their locks jammed.
Desperate, Hadad gathered her children in one room and began screaming for help.
``The water reached my neck. I was holding my three children up,'' Hadad recounted, sobbing uncontrollably. ``I couldn't hold them up...And my son fell. And I was screaming, `My son is drowning, my son is drowning!' And then the Arabs came.''
Hadad's neighbors, the Daka family, had heard her cries and, having no luck with the door, pried open the iron bars on the window.
``We heard screams from different neighbors and we started to take people outside,'' Hania Daka said. ``All the neighbors started to help each other. Suddenly we heard a very loud scream from the Hadad home.''
Doctors tried to revive David for five hours to no avail.
Just two weeks ago, Israeli Arabs in Jaffa abutting south Tel Aviv rioted, throwing stones and burning tires to express solidarity with Palestinians involved in anti-Israel clashes--as well as anger at what Israeli Arabs say is institutionalized discrimination.
The Jews in Tel Aviv and surrounding suburbs lashed back, burning Arab-owned apartments and shouting ``Death to the Arabs.'' Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai called on residents to remain indoors.
Month-long clashes have left 127 people dead: 109 Palestinians, 10 Israeli Arabs and eight Israeli Jews.
Tel Aviv, Israel's secular and financial center, is known less for ethnic tensions and more for its pronounced economic gaps: luxury penthouses in the north, gleaming skyscrapers in the financial district--and in the south, crumbling slums, including in Jaffa, a mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood.